Category Archives: Community Programs & Facilities

Attorney Christopher Poulos named to head Washington State Reentry Council

From penitentiary to White House, new executive director uniquely qualified to lead policy efforts to address addiction, help former inmates successfully rejoin workforce

Christopher Poulos will serve as executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, appointed by Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and the council following a nationwide search.

“Chris Poulos, whose compelling personal journey includes taking himself from homelessness, addiction, and prison to law school and serving in the White House and on Capitol Hill, is uniquely qualified to lead our efforts to develop this state’s ‘hidden workforce,’ encouraging successful transitions from incarceration to workplace. We are delighted to have Chris on board,” Bonlender said.

Poulos, once a homeless teenager and now a licensed attorney, served nearly three years in a federal prison for a drug-related conviction. His inspiring story was chronicled by the Washington Post, NBC News and others. He presented a TED Talk in 2015. Poulos also was interviewed by TVW’s Austin Jenkins on Inside Olympia.

Prior to taking the helm at Washington’s Reentry Council this month, Poulos served as executive director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an adjunct professor of criminal justice. During law school, he served in the Obama White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. Poulos has advised United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and served on several task forces related to criminal justice policy. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law, where he was president of the American Constitution Society and represented children facing criminal charges as a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.

“I am incredibly honored and privileged to serve as Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council,” Poulos said. “The fact that the Council and Department of Commerce selected a person who has both professional and personal reentry experience speaks volumes on the state’s commitment to developing smart and innovative policies regarding community reentry following criminal justice system involvement. I plan to work closely with the Council, state government, and the public to seize this opportunity to promote public safety by helping provide pathways to success for people reentering society.”

Learn more about the goals and policy work of the new Washington Statewide Reentry Council here.

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Southeast Washington Coalition receives 2017 Governor’s Smart Community Award

Program highlights commitment to preserving and protecting Washington’s enviable quality of life

OLYMPIA, Wash.  – The Washington State Department of Commerce presented on behalf of Governor Jay Inslee a 2017 Smart Communities award to the Southeast Washington Coalition consisting of Columbia, Asotin and Garfield counties and the cities of Clarkston and Starbuck for their regional growth management master program update.

The award celebrates the partnership that developed a Shoreline Master Program over three years with shared goals, policies and regulation for more than 300 miles of coastline. Partners accepting the award for the successful collaboration are:

  • Columbia County Planning and Building
  • Columbia County Commissioners
  • Asotin County Planning and Building
  • Asotin County Commissioners
  • Garfield County Public Works
  • City of Clarkston
  • Town of Starbuck
  • Brigham and Associates
  • Ben Floyd, Anchor QEA
  •  
    Judges commended the intense cooperation between many different elected officials with diverse needs, interests and constituencies.  The result is a Shoreline Master Program tailored to the unique conditions in each county while also providing consistent elements across county lines. The coalition successfully struck a balance between environmental protection, public access and water-oriented uses and achieving “no net loss” of ecological functions as they existed in southeast Washington in 2014.

    The one-of-a-kind regional plan, approved by the Department of Ecology without a single change, was completed on time and within budget.

    Judges described the process as “a very impressive model” and a “great example of visioning, community outreach and good planning – very smart!” They also applauded the group’s extensive stakeholder outreach and proclaimed it “top notch work and commitment by elected officials working together on tough questions.”

    Now in its 12th year, the Smart Communities program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure in Washington State.

    “The award recognizes the hard work of citizens, businesses and local officials to make sure we have a healthy economy, and strong, resilient communities. Creating a ‘quality of place’ helps grow communities where people want to stay, raise families, and develop economies,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

    Washington’s comprehensive Growth Management Act has been in place for 27 years. Using it as a framework, local communities plan and implement their vision for the future. For more information on the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards or the Growth Management Act, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growth.

    Contacts:        

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

    Mark McCaskill, Managing Director, Growth Management, (360) 725-3055

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    Commerce awards $11.8 million for local energy efficiency and solar projects

    Grants will lower energy costs in public buildings and create an estimated 514 jobs in communities across Washington state

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $11.8 million in energy efficiency and solar grants to help reduce energy costs at six higher education institutions, 27 local governments, four state agencies and 15 K-12 public school districts. Commerce awarded $8.3 million for energy efficiency projects and $3.4 million for solar photovoltaic projects. See the full list of projects.

    Construction spending on these projects will create an estimated 514 jobs. The total cost for all the projects is $51.9 million, including $39.8 million in non-state funds.

    “Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are vital to creating strong, resilient communities all over Washington state,” said state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “These grants create good jobs, save taxpayers money by reducing energy use and operating costs over the life of the projects, and help secure our clean energy future.”

    “Kettle Falls as a small community appreciates the continued support of the Department of Commerce in affording us the opportunity to use renewable energy and furthering our goal of reducing our expenditures,” said Kettle Falls mayor Dorothy Slagle.

    “Thanks to a grant award of $324,524, the South Kitsap School District will be able to perform in excess of $1.3 million in facility improvements at 10 locations. We are excited for this, our fourth round of energy saving projects, and continue our efforts to achieve maximum energy efficiency,” said Superintendent Karst Brandsma. “With these improvements, we expect to see more than $66,000 annually in energy savings. These types of funding programs are very important, and we wish to thank the Department of Commerce for their support.”

    The grants are awarded through a competitive process and must be used for energy and operational cost saving and solar installations.

    The 2015 Legislature appropriated $25 million for the statewide energy efficiency and solar grants program, specifying at least $5.7 million for projects that involve the purchase and installation of solar energy systems with a preference for Washington-manufactured systems. It also targeted small cities and towns (populations of 5,000 or less) to receive at least 10 percent of each competitive funding round.

    The city of Camas received three separate local energy efficiency grants in earlier funding rounds: two for facilities upgrades and one to convert street lights to LED.

    “One facility HVAC upgrade has already shown savings of over $26,500 per year for the first two years – 55 percent more per year than projected!” said Steve Wall, Camas public works director. “The second facility and LED street lights are expected to save an additional $100,000 and $22,000 per year, respectively. The Department of Commerce provides terrific support throughout the process and the savings generated have allowed the city to invest in other important services and projects that are underfunded,” he added.

    For more information, visit the Energy Efficiency page on the Commerce website.

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    Commerce selects Disability Rights Washington to provide new state ombuds services

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Department of Commerce has awarded Disability Rights Washington the contract to provide ombuds services for the new Washington Developmental Disabilities Ombuds program.

    The Legislature created the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds to help protect the health and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities. The office will act as watchdog, monitoring and reporting on the services provided in Washington state for potential situations of abuse and neglect.

    “I sponsored the bill to create this office because too many of our most vulnerable citizens have been left in unsafe and abusive conditions,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. “This provides an advocate for families to work with the Department of Social and Health Services on ensuring the safety of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

    “The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds will monitor residential facilities, residences, and services, and make recommendations to the Legislature for reforms,” said Betty Schwieterman of Disability Rights Washington.  “We are honored to do this work and are confident the Ombuds’ efforts will lead to improved service delivery systems across Washington.”

    “Improving our state’s capacity to better serve vulnerable people is an important part of our work help build stronger and more inclusive communities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

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    About Disability Rights Washington

    Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is a private non-profit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide. Their mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities. DRW is governed by a board of directors and with help from their advisory council, works to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights. These groups are made up of people with disabilities, family members, and others who have an interest in disability rights.

    Contacts:

    Peter Tassoni, Community Services and Housing Division, 360-725-3125

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    Weatherization Plus Health delivers cost-effective energy and health benefits

    Weatherization Plus Health, which combines weatherization and home environment improvements, shows potential for helping low-income households reduce their energy bills and their health care costs to control asthma.

    A 16-month pilot through the Department of Commerce’s Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Programs is nearing completion. We expect the final data and analysis in the next few months to help us verify these benefits and quantify the savings.

    The Weatherization Plus Health model is unique in bringing together construction professionals who can make home energy-efficiency improvements with community health workers who can assess asthma risks and target specific home asthma “triggers” for elimination.  For families with limited income and resources, the improvements offered can have a major positive impact on their lives.

    We built our pilot on a solid base of existing research that pointed to significant health impacts:

    • Washington State Department of Health has identified the asthma home visits done in Weatherization Plus Health as a best practice – an effective intervention to help control asthma symptoms.
    • A review of 20 studies found home-based, multi-component interventions improve overall quality of life and productivity in children and adolescents with asthma. (1)
    • A U.S. Department of Energy review found that enhanced energy efficiency upgrades (a major component of Weatherization Plus Health) reduce air contaminants linked to chronic illnesses, and control environmental contaminants that can trigger respiratory symptoms. They also reduce symptoms of asthma. (2)
    • The same review found that base energy efficiency work (a secondary component of Weatherization Plus Health) can reduce asthma symptoms and make improvements in indoor air quality contaminants. (2)

    Research also supports the benefits of a Weatherization Plus Health model on health symptoms, hospital and medications uses:

    • A November 2016 review of recent studies documented a 12 percent reduction in asthma-related emergency room use, a trend towards a 20 percent reduction in use of asthma “rescue” medicines, and a reduction in persistent colds, sinus infections, eczema and allergies. (3)

    Closer to home, two pilot studies in Washington state with pre-Weatherization Plus Health funding found:

    • In a Seattle/King County Public Health demonstration with King County Housing Authority, greater improvements in asthma symptoms were observed when home repairs were done to address home asthma risks. When home repairs were combined with home asthma education, a 71 percent improvement in poorly controlled asthma was observed. (4)
    • In another demonstration, Opportunity Council in Whatcom County found a greater than $400 decline in annual Medicaid costs and fewer Medicaid claims for households receiving energy efficient health repairs or “healthy home’s” repairs. (5)

    “We have seen the results repeatedly with families struggling with the risks and costs of asthma. Once we finish our evaluation in the next few months, we’ll have more evidence of what works that will help us make Weatherization Plus Health even more effective,” said John Davies, one of the early pioneers of Weatherization Plus Health work at Opportunity Council.

    Tim Bernthal is a Commerce Specialist in the Housing Improvements and Preservation unit. This team’s work strengthens communities through a variety of programs that fund low-income energy assistance, weatherization, lead-based paint remediation and removal and other work to improve homes throughout Washington. June is Healthy Homes Month. Visit our Weatherization Plus Health webpage, or contact Commerce program manager Hans Berg for more information.

    References

    (1) Crocker DD, Kinyota S., Dumitru GG, et al. Effectiveness of home-based, multi-trigger, multicomponent interventions with an environmental focus for reducing asthma morbidity: a community guide systematic review,  American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2011;41(2 Suppl 1):S5-32.

    (2) Wilson, J., Jacobs D., Reddy A., Tohn E., Cohen J., Jacobsohn, E., Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance – A Review of Current Evidence, US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE/EE -1505. December 2016.

    (3)  E4The Future. Occupant Health Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency (2016)

    (4)  Breysse, J., Krieger, J., et al. (January 2014). Effect of Weatherization Combined with Community Health Worker in Home Education on Asthma Control, American Journal of Public Health (King County).

    (5) Rose, E., Hawkins, B,; Tonn, B.;,Paton, D., Shah, L. (September 2015). Exploring the Potential of Weatherization Plus Health Interventions on Asthma-related Medicaid Claims and Costs in Washington State, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL/TM-2015/213, Oak Ridge, TN.

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    Gov. Inslee Proclaims June Healthy Homes Month in Washington

    Weatherization and home environment improvements are cost-effective in helping low-income families with asthma 

    OLYMPIA, WA – Gov. Jay Inslee joins the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in recognizing June as Washington Healthy Homes Month, highlighting new efforts to improve health outcomes and save money for low-income families living with asthma.

    “Healthy homes” are homes with fewer health and safety hazards such as lead-based paint, radon, mold, pests and allergens that can cause or contribute to a wide range of illnesses and diseases including lead poisoning, asthma and cancer. Low-income families are more likely than higher-income families to experience these hazards in their homes.

    Low-income households also have higher rates of asthma, and children with asthma have the highest rates of hospitalization. In Washington state in 2010, people with asthma made 164,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms, and paid $73 million for asthma-related hospitalizations. Public funds paid for about 60 percent of these costs.

    In an era of shrinking state and federal budgets, Washington’s “Weatherization Plus Health” pilot project is maximizing the return on grants that help fund weatherization and energy efficiency improvements in low-income homes by targeting those affected by asthma.

    Over 500 such households in Snohomish, Whatcom, Pierce, Yakima, Walla Walla, King and Spokane Counties have benefited from $2.3 million invested over the last two years through the program. Resources focus on reducing home asthma triggers, such as carpets, pests, water damage, mold and improving ventilation.

    A 2014 national study of the HUD Low-income Weatherization Assistance Program by Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed that weatherization in homes with asthma reduced asthma emergency room visits significantly.

    Washington’s Weatherization Plus Health assesses qualified low-income housing to look for measures that can reduce energy waste and energy bills, while also assessing the housing environment conditions that may be worsening asthma symptoms for vulnerable children and adults.

    “Weatherization Plus Health is a smart investment in cost-effective energy improvements that result in healthier environments and healthier lives for families throughout Washington state,” said Gov. Inslee.

    “This state investment strengthens communities by helping reduce costly energy and medical bills for people who can least afford them,” said Michael Furze, assistant director of the energy division at the Department of Commerce.

    Learn how to get started making your home healthier by downloading HUD’s publication “Is Your Home a Healthy Home” or visit the Commerce Weatherization Plus Health webpage.

    Read Gov. Inslee’s proclamation. 

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    2017 Governor’s Smart Communities Award Winners Announced

    Seven counties, nine cities, two ports and one college receive awards for innovative growth planning

    The first wine buildings are already under construction at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village along Columbia Drive in east Kennwick.
    The first wine buildings are already under construction at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village along Columbia Drive in east Kennwick.

    OLYMPIA – Governor Jay Inslee today announced winners of the 2017 Smart Communities Awards. Now in its 12th year, the program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy and sustainable infrastructure in Washington State.

    “These projects help create and sustain thriving communities. They facilitate the growth of local economies by creating ‘quality of place’ that can help retain and attract business and broaden the economic growth around the state,” said Gov. Inslee.

    The 2017 Governor’s Smart Communities Award winners are:

    Smart Vision Award – Comprehensive planning

    • City of Anacortes included over 1,000 community members to create an exceedingly thorough and well thought out 2016 Comprehensive Plan.  Anacortes showed leadership in planning for smart, sustainable growth and recognizes the important role it serves in protecting surrounding rural, forested and marine areas so important to Anacortes and Skagit County citizens.
    • City of Hoquiam and the City of Aberdeen TimberWorks Resiliency and Restoration Master Plan for the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam is a strong roadmap for reducing the risk of flooding in their communities. Protecting properties from water damage, reducing the financial costs of flooding and enhancing the physical character of the community are crucial to economic and community development.
    • Whatcom County 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update was unique. It brought in new elements including climate change resiliency strategies and Marine Resource Lands section to conserve and enhance Whatcom County’s marine land base for the long-term and sustainable production commercial and recreational economic activities.

    Smart Choices Award – Implementation of a comprehensive plan

    • Kittitas County for its Kittitas County Tourism Infrastructure Plan. A complex project that successfully included an extensive public outreach process involving residents, visitors, and public, nonprofit and private parties identifying tourism assets, measuring potentials, evaluating strategies.  The goal, creating an effective and equitable method of competitively allocating lodging tax revenues for tourism infrastructure development as part of the overall comprehensive plan’s economic development element.
    • City of Sedro-Woolley, Port of Skagit and Skagit County Subarea Plan and Planned Action Environmental Impact Statement sets the stage for revitalization of the former Northern State Hospital, a National Register Historic District property. This is a model of public-private partnerships applying planning tools to establish a framework for implementation of a community vision.

    Smart Partnerships Award – Project implementing a comprehensive plan

    • City of Kennewick Columbia Drive Urban Revitalization Area project demonstrates excellence, innovation and a creative approach to both planning, funding, and implementation
    • Port of Kennewick spent millions of dollars buying, clearing and preparing the waterfront for redevelopment now the Columbia Drive Urban Revitalization Area project with the City of Kennewick, Benton County and Columbia Basin College has strengthened historic downtown Kennewick’s economy through their shared investments.
    • Benton County provided $2.1 million in Rural County Capital Funds for infrastructure to complete Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village and prepare the Willows for commercial development, revitalizing tired, neglected properties help the Columbia Drive Urban Revitalization Area project further leverage valuable community assets.
    • Columbia Basin College also is a partner in this non-traditional approach to economic development.  Their part of the project includes the construction of the Columbia Basin College Culinary Institute, adding to the accessible and sustainable gathering place with activities to attract and engage residents and visitors.

    Smart Projects Award – Development project to implement a plan

    • City of Kirkland Arete Mixed-Use Development project has created new economic development opportunities with pedestrian-oriented retail space.  The city partnered with a developer around shared commitments to affordability, diversity, quality design, transportation choices and green building.

    Judges’ Merit Award – The judges also selected two projects for a special merit award

    • City of Clarkston, Town of Starbuck, Asotin County ,Columbia County and Garfield County joined together to create a five-jurisdiction plan, the Southeast Washington Coalition Shoreline Master Program Update (SEWASMP).  This is a never-before-seen cooperative Growth Management strategy.  The new SEWASMP allows for consistency among local jurisdictions while simultaneously being tailored to each individual region.
    • City of Renton Galvanizing Art Projects Program is an innovative method of funding locally made public art with limited resources and great results. The projects are transforming empty and meaningless spaces into focal points and engaging artists of all ages and skills.  It celebrates the diversity of the city and offers opportunities for all, regardless of economics, education, age, gender or ethnic origin.

    Notable 2017 Submittals

    • City of Hoquiam – Hoquiam Waterfront Boat Launch and Moorage Project
    • City of Issaquah – Costco/Issaquah Corporate Campus Development Agreement
    • City of Kelso – West Kelso Subarea Plan
    • City of Olympia – City of Olympia Action Plan
    • City of Renton – Downtown Commercial Rehabilitation and Facade Improvement Loan Program
    • City of Ridgefield – Ridgefield Mixed Use Overlay/Commercial Design Standards
    • City of Sea Tac –  Angle Lake Link Light Rail Station & Parking Facility
    • City of Spokane Valley – Spokane Valley Comprehensive Plan
    • Island County – 2016 Island County Comprehensive Plan

    The Governor’s Smart Communities awards will be highlighted in June at the Association of Washington Cities annual conference at Hilton Vancouver Washington Convention Center in Vancouver and in November at the Washington State Association of Counties annual conference at DoubleTree by Hilton in SeaTac.

    “The 2017 Governor’s Smart Communities Award winners reflect a wide variety of efforts that strengthen communities by engaging in collaborative planning for future growth and economic development,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

    Washington’s comprehensive Growth Management Act has been in place for 27 years. Using it as a framework, local communities plan and implement their vision for the future. For more information on the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards or the Growth Management Act, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growth.

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    Gov. Inslee names Scott Hutsell to lead Public Works Board

    Lincoln County commissioner Scott Hutsell appointed to serve as chair of the Washington State Public Works Board

    Scott HutsellOLYMPIA, Wash. – Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Scott Hutsell to serve as chair position of the Washington State Public Works Board.  Hutsell, a lifetime resident of Washington, currently serves as a Lincoln County Commissioner, and was first elected in 2008. He has owned his Davenport-based business for 30 years.

    “I applied for the chairmanship because I think we can take what we do to a whole new level,”  Hutsell shared.

    “Scott has a strong commitment to public service and a clear vision for the board’s future,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I know he will bring leadership and collaboration to the role of chair.”

    The mission of the Public Works Board is to provide financial and technical assistance to Washington communities for critical public health, safety and environmental infrastructure that supports community and economic vitality.

    The board consists of 13 governor-appointed members from stakeholder groups representing:

  • Washington State Association of Counties,
  • Association of Washington Cities,
  • Washington State Association of Sewer and Water Districts,
  •  Public Utility Districts Associations, and
  • General public members.
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    Hutsell’s term began on April 24, 2017, and continues at the pleasure of the Governor.

    The legislature created the Public Works Board in 1985 in partnership with local governments to help address community infrastructure needs through a dedicated local funding pool. This revolving loan program is managed by a citizen board comprised of local infrastructure representatives.

    For more information about the Public Works Board, please visit www.pwb.wa.gov.

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    Commerce grants $100K to help launch new marine systems job training program in Port Townsend

    EDC Team Jefferson, maritime industry team up with Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to address high demand for skilled marine systems technicians

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded a $100,000 WorkStart grant to help the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) launch a new marine systems training program in Port Townsend. A recent update to the state’s Maritime Industry Cluster Study found that marine systems technicians are in critically short supply, forcing some local companies to turn away work, and to seek or train workers out of state to get the skills necessary to keep their businesses competitive.

    “These funds will help our workforce remain connected to our state’s maritime roots. This program will allow more companies with critical workforce needs to succeed,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

    Washington’s diverse maritime industry directly contributes over 69,000 jobs and has a combined economic impact over $37 billion annually, reaching from urban centers to rural towns up and down the state’s working waterfronts.

    EDC Team Jefferson – the economic development council for Jefferson County – requested funding for the industry-prioritized marine vessel systems curriculum at NWSWB. Students will receive intensive hands-on training in topics such as basic electrical, marine diesel engines, propulsion, steering and controls, and marine plumbing.

    “Our local maritime industry continues to be a key driving force for our economy. This grant opportunity from Commerce will help build resiliency for this sector by keeping our workforce effectively trained to meet current and future demand,” said Team Jefferson executive director Brian Kuh.

    “The diverse maritime industry in Washington State provides family-wage jobs on the Olympic Peninsula and across the state. The industry needs a well-trained technician workforce to be competitive and grow. The school’s plan to expand curricula to include vessel systems aligns perfectly with industry demand and the skill sets needed to enter the marine trades workforce,” said Ann Avary, director of the Northwest Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing and Technology.

    “NWSWB works closely with the industry. Over its 35-year history, our graduates have built successful businesses and hired other graduates,” said NWSWB executive director Betsy Davis. “This program will become an important, sustainable component of the marine trades on Port Townsend Bay.”

    “The Port of Port Townsend considers vocational training to be a key ingredient in building a thriving local economy,” wrote Sam Gibboney, Executive Director of the Port of Port Townsend.  “Many businesses in Boat Haven have hired graduates of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding over the years.  The new Marine Systems Curriculum is highly relevant to the work going on in the Port today.”

    Contact:

    Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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    Millions of Dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits Go Unclaimed Each Year by Working Americans

    Jan. 27 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Day proclaimed in Washington State to raise awareness of benefit that can pay a lump sum refund of up to $6,269 to people with low to moderate incomes.

    Many people are eligible for a tax refund of up to $6,269 from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and do not claim it. Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed tomorrow, Jan. 27 “Earned Income Tax Credit Day in Washington State” as part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness of this underused tax credit and how to apply for it.

    You must file a federal tax return with the IRS to get your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file.

    Twenty percent of those eligible for the credit either do not claim it or do not file a tax return at all. The credit reduces the amount of taxes owed and results in a lump sum refund payment for most people who are eligible to claim it.

    “As one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the United States, it is critical to raise awareness of this opportunity, not just for individuals and families, but also to strengthen our state’s economy,” Inslee said.

    Last year 436,000 people in Washington applied for the credit, claiming close to $956 million in refunds and generating about $1.43 billion for our state’s economy. Even so, an estimated $270 million in federal tax credits go unclaimed in Washington.

    “This year individuals can receive a tax refund of up to $6,269 if they meet eligibility requirements,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the Department of Commerce. “For over 40 years, the Earned Income Tax Credit has lifted working families out of poverty and strengthened communities throughout the state. I encourage everyone to learn more and see if you qualify.”

    The Department of Commerce and Department of Social and Health Services are partnering with other agencies and organizations across the state to raise awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    Free tax preparation services are available to many low- and moderate-income families. Just dial 2-1-1 and ask for “free tax preparation locations” or search “free tax prep” at www.irs.gov.

    On Friday, Jan. 27, communities throughout Washington are taking part in national EITC Day to promote the tax credit.

    Local Contacts:

    Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition (Walla Walla and Columbia counties), Steve Dickerson, 509.540.1247
    Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council (Chelan and Douglas counties), Linda Limbeck, 509.662.6156 ext. 238
    Kitsap Community Resources (Kitsap County), Kristina Didrickson, 360.478.2301
    Lower Columbia Community Action Programs (Cowlitz County), Liz Myntti, 360.425.3430, ext. 215
    Opportunity Council (Whatcom County), Lisa Sohni 360.724.5121 ext. 224
    Pierce County Asset Building Coalition, Amy Allison, 253.426.1516
    Community Action of Skagit County, Lynn Christofersen, 360.588-5748
    Spokane County United Way, Andrey Muzychenko, 509.324.5030
    United Way of King County, Jenny Walden, 206.461.5048
    United Way of Mason County, Allison Maluchnik, 360.401.9808
    United Way of Snohomish County, Jacqui Campbell, 425.374.5501
    Thurston County Asset Building Coalition, Kirsten Klein, AARP Tax-Aide Local Coordinator – 360-269-5771, Mayra Pena, Thurston ABC Outreach Coordinator – 360-464-6055
    United Way of Yakima County, Paula Slaye, 509.966.5163
    Klickitat County ABC, Brian Wanless, 509.250.0737
    OIC of WA: the Prosperity Center (Grant and Adams Counties), Carolyn Grant, 509.765.9206, ext. 239
    Community Housing Resource Center (Clark County), Charlene Dahlen, 360.690.4496, ext. 100

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